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Perched on the slopes of Monte Tauro and overlooking the Ionian Sea, Taormina certainly has wow factor. Alongside sun, sea and spectacular ancient ruins, a holiday to Taormina offers fabulous food and wine, chic shopping, and day trips to smouldering Mount Etna.
Founded by the Greeks more than 2,700 years ago, Taormina has been a tourist hotspot since the 18th century, when it was a must-see for aristocrats on the Grand Tour. Dubbed Sicily's answer to Monte Carlo, this jewel of the Mediterranean today attracts jetsetters and families alike.
Taormina’s mountainside setting makes for sublime views, but sun-seekers will want to walk or ride the cable car straight down to the sea. Stake out your spot on Mazzaro, a family-friendly pebble beach lapped by turquoise water, or head to Isola Bella to snorkel in shallow coves teeming with fish.
Away from the water, Corso Umberto, Taormina’s elegant main street, offers a slice of retail therapy. Shop for designer fashion, lava-stone jewellery or local specialities such vino alla mandorla (almond wine). As the sun begins to dip, make like an Italian and indulge in the ritual of passeggiata (an evening stroll), gelato in hand.
Elsewhere, Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, looms nearby, around an hour’s drive away. Take the cable car up the southern slope, hike to still-smoking craters or ride the scenic train around the base of the famously fiery volcano. Etna’s rich volcanic soils produce some excellent red and white wines too, so make time for a tasting tour of the surrounding vineyards.
Alongside the wine, you’ll be dreaming of Taormina’s seafood-heavy Sicilian cuisine long after you leave. Choose from Michelin-starred restaurants, upmarket osterias and traditional trattorias, and feast on regional dishes such as pasta con le sarde (with sardines, pine nuts and raisins) and crispy cannoli pastries filled with sweetened ricotta.
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